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Transformational Leadership 1
The 5 Mindsets of Great Leaders
Equipping leaders through insights that impac t daily
Craig Farmer : 04422418475 :
Monthly Insights #1
5 Mindsets of Great Leaders
It is unsettling to me that many organisations are still looking to capture the perfect leadership competency and development model. The expectation is that the right skills can be developed for the right situation. Many people are operating under the belief that the right skills help leaders execute the plan. Like all things, there is some truth to this notion. But, there are contradictions for every situation. A move that was logical yesterday might be illogical today as a result of rapid change. Consistent leadership practices are only valuable in consistent climates, which is virtually nonexistent today.
For today’s leaders, mindset development must come before skill-‐set development. We all operate with certain mindsets. These mindsets will determine where we focus, the questions we ask, and the way we perform activities. We are generally unaware of how our mindsets are impacting us and how it impacts our results.
Consider a leader (John) who is given feedback that they are not a good listener. Off they go to a course to learn listening techniques. Because John is bright and diligent he picks up the skills and starts to apply them when back at work. John is perplexed and a bit upset when he receives more feedback that he is not a good listener and is now seen as manipulative.
This scenario is repeated continually across organisations. People with the right skills but the wrong mindsets.
For instance, it is hard to become a better listener without developing a genuine mindset of curiosity first. Learning to look people in the eye, fight distractions, and asking appropriate questions are important, but they are simply mechanical skills. Being open to new ideas and processes, and remaining inclusive of others lets you really hear what’s being said and put it to good use. This is what I mean by mindset. Mechanics can be applied and developed universally. Mindset is individual. Mindset is the true separator of talent, not
I would like to explore with you 5 mindsets that can help separate great from good, leader from manager, and achievers from dreamers.
Welcome to Transformational Leadership – 5 Mindsets of Great Leaders.
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Have you ever wondered how come people get different results in their lives? Some people seem to live an easy, almost blessed life, whilst others seem to bounce from struggle to struggle.
To help us understand some clues about this dynamic I want to share something that comes from Neuro-‐Linguistic-‐Programming (NLP). NLP was developed in the 1960’s and 1970’s by two amazing men. What they discovered was that there were patterns in human behaviour. Mindset patterns that, if followed, would result in success. By looking at these patterns (mindsets) and changing them we are able to get the results that we really want, if we take action. At the end of the day action is king. No action, no change to our mindsets and therefore our results. Be willing to take action!
As way of an introduction I want to share with you the 5 principles of success to orient you to what I am going to be covering. I am going to explore each of them in various ways in more depth.
1. Know what you want.
So many people live their lives getting whatever results turn up and accepting it as the way IT is. If it is a good day, whatever that means, then great. If bad stuff happens, then life isn’t too enjoyable. They have no mastery over what is happening in their lives. Many, many people believe that this is just the way life is. Many leaders are in the same boat. If you want to lead then you need to know and be able to articulate what you are aiming at. What do you want? Not just day to day, wondering what will happen but asking yourself questions like, “What do I want out of today?” or “What would make today an outstanding day?” I find that second question really helps me set an empowering goal for the day. It helps me get moving, helps me have a positive frame of mind, it helps me know how to deal with all the things that come up in a day. In life we tend to get what we focus on. If we are focusing on how leadership is so hard or on problems then we will often just get more of the problem.
So I’m curious what would happen if you start to focus on the sort of person, sort of relationships, sort of outcomes in your role, and the sort of results you want in your life? Do you think that might start to empower you in your life and leadership to move forward and get more positive results? You can apply this anywhere, for anything. Now maybe you won’t get a change immediately, it might take a few attempts but it is going to give you more of an opportunity to get the results you are looking for if you know the results you want.
I know when I started my business I was happy just to be asked to do anything, so I said yes without a clear understanding of what I wanted. It left me trying to meet
5 Mindsets of Great Leaders
other people’s expectations, working long hours, neglecting my family and working outside of my strengths. When I stopped and asked myself: “What do you want out of this business and where can I offer the greatest service to others?” I realised how far from my personal best leadership I was at that moment. I sat down and wrote out my values, my vision, my business principles and then my goals. I do this every month now.
Whatever you want to apply this to you can -‐ whether it is how you think about yourself, how much money you earn, where you live, how you relate with others. Decide upfront what you want right now. Take some time to simply make a list of things you want. Can I suggest that you have 3 headings –
1. Who I want to be as a leader
2. How I want my relationships within my workplace to be
3. What I want to have – job, money, possessions, adventures etc.
The second success principle from NLP is…
2. TAKING ACTION.
There can be no substitute for taking action. The best-‐laid plans don’t become a reality if you are sitting on the couch watching the TV. You got to be prepared to act, to get out there and try new things by extending ourselves.
We have got to be prepared to take action, which will build up some momentum.
I remember as a teenager feeling depressed and not wanting to go out and see people. Every time I took the action to go out and see my friends my emotional state changed. Why, because action changes our emotional state, action gives us confidence. When you start moving, start acting in the direction that you desire then you are giving yourself small successes. They translate into greater emotional states, which translate into greater confidence and certainty, which means you are more likely to keep taking action forward.
First principle is know what you want, the second is take action. The third is…
3. HAVE SENSORY AWARENESS.
This is basically being able to notice if you are getting the results that you want. What we need to be able to do is look at our lives and see if we are producing the results we wanted from certain actions.
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Sitting next to a river Jim tells you he needs to get across to the other side. You watch as he runs as fast as he can and jumps. He lands 3 metres from where he had jumped in, drags himself out sopping wet. You watch as Jim walks even further back for his run up. Again he runs as fast as he could and jumps. This time he jumps 4 metres. Given the river is 10 metres wide the chance of success are slim. However Jim continues to jump, until exhausted he gives up and decides he doesn’t want to cross the river any more.
How many leaders are trying to get different results by working harder with the same strategy or skill? How many leaders have been stuck with the same results but they are unwilling to stop and admit that they need a new approach. How many leaders are well-‐intentioned, have good skills but have linked their ego with the success of a certain role or task, blinding them to the actual results they are getting. How many leaders are justifying, blaming and excusing the results they are getting on external forces, other people’s incompetence or some other factor?
The truth is that is how many leaders operate. What we need to be able to do often is to stop and ask ourselves the question “Are these the results I am looking for?” When we don’t stop and have sensory awareness, to notice, then we will be stuck in a doom loop.
This takes us to our next Principle.
4. BEHAVIOURAL FLEXIBILITY.
You need enough behavioural flexibility to change what you are doing if it isn’t getting you the results you are looking for.
If we go back to Jim trying to cross the river. After the first time he says to himself, “This isn’t going to work, what else could I try?” It makes him start exploring his environment. After a while he finds a boat up the shoreline and gets in and paddles across. That is behavioural flexibility. Exploring new ways and new options. How many times do you change your behaviour if you aren’t getting the results you are looking for? As many times as it takes! See the problem that most of us have is that we simply don’t believe we have many options. We don’t see the options around us. What do you need to do differently?
As a leader this is where you mindsets start to kick in and your ability to engage in creative thinking.
I was coaching an executive leader (Joan we will call her) recently who had been trying to effect change within the organisation, with limited success. Joan was a hard
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worker, educated and talented. I had led her through the three ideas above. When I started to ask Joan about her options she went blank, in fact, as I pressed her she got quite frustrated and defensive. “There are no other options, I have done everything I can think of. If I could think of anything else I would have. What are your ideas? Isn’t that part of what I am paying you for.” Of course I didn’t supply her with the answers but took Joan on a journey of pushing back her limiting mindsets and beliefs about herself, her co-‐workers and the organisation. As we did this Joan became aware of many many more options available to her. What she had done was block out her various options and therefore restrict her ability to be behaviourally flexible. Joan was proud of herself, excited about the future and thankful I hadn’t just given her the answers.
Many leaders, and therefore organisations, think and then behave like they are on railroad tracks. There is a sense of inevitability about the process and outcomes. Great leaders are able to have behavioural flexibility
5. HAVE A GREAT ‘STATE’
Your state refers to the mindset and physiology that you possess in each moment of the day. They are linked!
Leadership is not an easy ride. There are two things we know: one, everyone is taking their clues from you (you are a model whether you want to be or not) and secondly, when the going gets tough that is when you will build credibility or lose it. You are the only one who can maintain a positive mindset and physiology.
Imagine that I am slumping my shoulders, eyes looking down, voice flat. As I tell you that this next year is going to be the best ever. Would you believe me?
The way you carry yourself is in line with what you want to create. Have you ever noticed how much better you feel when you sit up tall, eyes looking up…in fact try it now… sit up tall, lift your eyes, pull your shoulders back, breath in deeply from the bottom of your lungs. Notice how you feel, strong, positive, and confident. By simply changing such a small thing as how you sit and how you hold you body really changes how you think about yourself and life.
Everyone can have an attitude and physiology of excellence when the going is good and easy. But it is the true winners who choose to manage and change their physiology when the going is tough. Make a commitment to yourself that your physiology and psychology will stay positive even when the going gets tough. Your commitment includes when setbacks comes you will get even more courageous; when you are criticised, you will get more determined. Does it mean you will always
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get the results you are looking for every time, maybe not? But you are going to be increasing the chances of getting the results you are looking for.
There is a great amount of input in those five ideas. Let me share with you the Five Mindsets of Transformational Leadership.
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Below & Above The Line Thinking
The first transformational leadership mindset is Below & Above the Line Thinking.
Below the line thinking is anything that isn't allowing you to create the results you're looking for. Now I want to share something with you. Most people spend too much time below the line thinking.
Below the line thinking is where somebody blames somebody else -‐ or circumstance -‐ or the environment -‐ or the economy -‐ or their boss -‐ or their spouse -‐ or their kids -‐ or their workload -‐ for why they're not getting the results that they want -‐ because it's not really about them is it?
Or a leader makes a lot of excuses. Now I am sure that you would say that you have done this and I can laugh along with you because I know that I’ve done it.
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We are talking about a leader who would make excuses about why they can't do something.
• "I was waiting on someone else” or • “My last role made me so……!” or • “I'd do that if we I had more budget!” or a common one • “I'd do that if I had more time!"
They have an excuse for everything and I hope you're thinking of an area in your leadership where perhaps you've done exactly that because I know I have.
My mentor shared with me the excuse that she used over and over again. It was an old excuse; an old pattern that she used to run for ages and the excuse was... "I had it tough so you can't expect me to do this; I had a lot of illness in my life for a very long time". So her excuse was really handy and really real because she had the scars and everything, so boy it had to be real and her excuse was... "Well I'm really sick so you can't expect me to get involved in the game of life!" -‐ and that was a really unsatisfying way of living -‐ but it was a pretty good excuse.
The last thing aspect of below the line thinking is denial. Now this one is a really, really sneaky way of doing it. It's the type of person who will say.... "There isn't really a problem and everything is fine!” “That’s the way it is, can’t change it.”
Are you noticing how sneaky and insidious that particular excuse can be?
So it's form of denial where not only do they deny what's going on right now but it's like "I know I'll deal with it later" and do you think they ever do?
I'm wondering if you can imagine for a moment a leader constantly below the line and how that might look and end up. Go forward in your mind's eye, 40 years.
What results do you think that leader is going to be getting? Well I'm here to tell you today that below the line thinking is easier to do but it's also the least satisfying way to live.
So let's flip the coin, let's go above the line and everything I'm about to share with you right now is where successful leaders operate.
The consistently own all their behaviours and goals they hold themselves accountable for whatever has occurred under their watch. They are responsible for the results they get in every area of their leadership, no matter what.
Perhaps there's a little bit of a gulp factor associated with it. That's okay too because, you know what, the first time I heard about this I had a gulp factor going for me, it was
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like... "I've got to do that how often?” “I've got to be responsible how often?” “I've got to take ownership?” “I've got to be accountable?!!"
Above the line thinking is challenging and -‐ you know what -‐ I don't know there are a lot of people who do it all the time. I do know some rare and successful leaders who seem to do it most of the time and they're amazing and they're not just amazing in what they've created in their lives, they're just amazing people to be around because they don't make excuses, or blame or deny about what didn't work out for them.
They own it and say, "I am responsible". They're accountable for what's going on.
So it isn't just... "Oh they didn't take care of it!" -‐ it's rather – "You know what; I want to be accountable for this because it's only in a space of being accountable that I can make any impact on the situation".
Imagine for a moment you're in a job you're not satisfied with and just for a moment go below the line and blame your boss, make an excuse about your lack of education or even deny there's a problem, you will make do with the situation. You're going to be stuck in that job for a lot longer.
Now go above the line and notice the difference. Take ownership of how it's not working for you. Hold yourself accountable for changing it and follow through with a sense of responsibility that “It is down to me, the buck is stopping with me to create the life and the job or the career that I want and I deserve.”
Now isn't that an amazing and empowering way to think? And is it a challenging way to think? If this is new to you, then yes, I think it's challenging as well.
And you might be listening to this and thinking... "Wow, that sounds hard".
Well let me ask you a question.
"Is it hard or is it just unfamiliar?"
The first time I heard this it was very unfamiliar -‐ it was a real stretch for me to get my head around what that would mean and how it was going to impact my leadership.
Exercise: So grab your pen and write down three to five areas of your leadership where you've been below the line, where you have blamed or made excuses and where perhaps you've even denied there's a problem until now.
5 Mindsets of Great Leaders
Now think about and identify at least five areas within your leadership where you do take ownership, where you do hold yourself accountable and where you do take responsibility.
Exercise: So just jot down now five areas of your life where you do take responsibility and ownership and you hold yourself accountable and notice how good it feels to notice those areas and how good it feels to claim ownership for where you are responsible.
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Transformational Leadership Mindset 2
Focus is Everything
Have you ever realised that your thinking -‐ how you think, what you think and when you think certain things is creating your reality. If you want to change your leadership experience by 10% then you will need to change your thinking and your attitude by 10%.
This transformational leadership mindset principle says that what you focus on is what you get to the exclusion of everything else.
As you look at the torch above we notice shine that torch, where you focus is what you're going to notice, that's just how it works.
If you're in a dark room and shine your torch on the wall you will notice the circle or the oval shape that's on the wall because, what you focus on is what you get. Now notice in the dark room where you're shining the torch, what you focus on is what you get and everything else is left out. It's not being picked up the torch beam.
Interesting you say, but what's that got to do with my leadership mindset. Well the same principle holds for you and your leadership right now. What you're focusing on is what you are noticing. If you're focusing on lack -‐ you're experiencing lack. If you're focusing on abundance I know you're experiencing abundance. If you focus on the shortcoming of those who work for you, you will see more problems. If you focus on opportunities within a project, you will find great opportunities.
This universal law is true for everybody. What you're focusing on currently in your leadership is determining the results that you're getting.
For example, if you spend a lot of time focusing on problems and the stuff that's going wrong, do you notice how you seem to get more problems and as you get more problems, do you notice you start feeling down about yourself and kind of irritated or frustrated and the more you focus on that are you noticing how you get even more of the same?
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And now let's flip it. What are you excluding to be able to focus on all those problems and the frustration, the irritation and everything else that comes with it? Aren't you excluding all the solutions? Think about it. Using the metaphor of the torchlight. You have within you the torchlight of possibility. Where you shine your torch but where you shine your torch that will determine your outcome. If you focus on solutions, creativity, positives etc you will notice them. We are not talking about denying reality and positive thinking. That isn’t helpful. Let me illustrate the difference between positive thinking and the power of focus.
I once was talking with a colleague of mine and we were talking about networking events. He expressed a very negative view of them. I was curious about his mindset. I asked him what his experience of them was. He went onto describe a really depressing and difficult scenario that he said was repeated on numerous occasions. I then asked him about his mindset when he went into these events. He told me it was things like, “I’m not good at talking with strangers”, “Will anyone want to talk with me?” “How can I make this as quick and comfortable as possible?” What do you think his results were? He would get a drink, stand in the corner, look uncomfortable, someone would take pity on him and try to talk with him only to receive curt answers, and then leaves soon after. His focus got him the results. He asked me about my results and experience. I explained that when I go into a networking room my belief is, “Of course everyone will want to talk with me, why wouldn’t they”, “I wonder what fascinating people I will meet and find out about today”, “I might be able to learn something today that will help accelerate my results.”
Interestingly my friend replied, “Yes that’s just you Craig, I’m not like you.” Did you hear the ‘below the line’ mindset in that statement? He was making an excuse and not taking responsibility for his results. Somehow he believed that he was destined to be poor at networking.
Our focus can exclude other possibilities and experiences. When we choose to change or expand our focus our results may not change straight away.
My friend who believed he was hopeless at networking wasn’t that great at small talk. That was the reality. He felt awkward. His focus was on himself, his feelings. So he changed his focus. He went to networking events determined to find 5 interesting people and discover something new. He also focused on the fact that many other people weren’t good at small talk and were feeling uncomfortable. So his mindset was to find those people and engage in conversations that were substantial and help them not feel so awkward.
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If your leadership torch light is focused on an experience where you were let down by someone you might think or conclude "that means this will always happen.”
You'll make what's called a generalisation. You'll assume that everything else is the same because you are experiencing it in this one occasion.
If you shift your focus you will notice that there are other times when this same person hasn’t let you down and when others don’t let you down. You would not notice this if you choose not to take control of where and what you focus on.
This is not to say that we can’t be realists as leaders. The same things can exist in the same workplace.
The mind is constantly searching for what we're familiar with.
Recently I was facilitating a team workshop. This team was full of dedicated, skilled and passionate people. The morale of the team was low and they had started to niggle and fight between each other. The leader asked me to come and assist them. I interviewed all of them. They were upset with each other, they were frustrated with the amount of ‘interruptions’ that certain emergencies had taken, and they were feeling like they hadn’t accomplished much. When I got them together as a group the first thing I asked them to do was write down what they personally had accomplished in the last 6 months. I got them each to read it out, and then I invited the others in the team to ‘remind’ them of other things they had achieved. After one hour the morale, interaction and frustration in this team had disappeared as they shifted their focus on the apparent lack of cooperation, achievement and synergy occurring to what they had collectively achieved and contributed.
This team had always been achieving yet they were focusing on the small number of things that they hadn’t been able to achieve up to that date.
Focus is everything.
The most effective leaders focus on opportunity, possibility and potential. Anyone can be a ‘negative nelly’. It takes courage to choose to focus on the potential talent before it is realised in people. It takes courage to stare a costly problem in the face and to tell the team you are excited about the creativity it will take to overcome this.
Now the story above is a really simple example of how powerful this is and how powerful it can be in your leadership.
Where do you focus, what do you experience in your life and leadership? And you're wondering... "Well how do I work out what I'm focusing on, I don't know what I'm focusing on Craig, give me something". It's easy. What results are you experiencing?
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This one principle has the power to allow you to see the magnificence in other people. If you can see it in them, then you can also see it in yourself.
This one key has the power to enable you to focus on your strengths, and not your weaknesses allowing you to improve your results in whatever you do.
This one key has the power to release you from anger or hurt, because you will see the lessons in the situation and the growth rather than just the damage.
If you focus on what you can’t control you will feel miserable and constantly overwhelmed. If you focus on what you can control, your thoughts, your attitude, your responses to everything then you will feel empowered, confident and joy.
Transformational Leadership Mindset 3
The Map Is Not The Territory
No matter what you think reality is, it can only be your interpretation of. The best map of Sydney can never be Sydney; it can only be a re-‐presentation of what Sydney is.
This means you cannot experience the world the way it is you can only experience it based on your beliefs and your values.
Think about for a moment the number of times you hear eyewitness accounts of crime being totally different. If you have 20 eyewitnesses you’re probably going to get around 20 different statements and they’re all going to have some variety of what was going on.
So no matter how accurate you think you’re experiencing reality you can only experience your definition of reality. If you’re hearing that going..."yeah so what, what difference does that make?” That means no matter what situation you’re in, you get to choose
Taking control of how you interpret the world is a crucial mindset to being an effective leader because the ‘map is not the territory’.
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how you’re going to experience it. No matter what happens, you get to choose how you’re going to interpret that event.
I’ll give you a really simple example about this. Have you ever had a time when you’re working away and somebody walks past you and they kind of frown and don’t acknowledge you and you kind of think, "Huh, what’s that about, why didn’t they say hello to me, what’s wrong, don’t they like me anymore, have I done something wrong?" -‐ or whatever.
The quality of our leadership (and our life for that matter) is determined by the meaning we give to the events that happen and the choices we make as a result of those meanings.
Throughout the world there are many leaders who have had to overcome extraordinary hardships, loss or challenge and yet gone on to lead remarkably organisations. Someone like Nelson Mandela or Ghandi come to mind.
Essentially what we are talking about is a mindset that takes control of the lens through which you lead.
My favourite example is of Roger Bannister. For years it was ‘accepted as impossible’ that a person could run a mile in less than 4 minutes. In 1954, Roger Bannister did exactly what everyone agreed was impossible. He achieved this feat through physical and mental practice.
What is remarkable about this story goes far beyond what Bannister achieved. Within one year of his feat 37 other runners broke the four-‐minute mile. Another year after that, another 300 runners did the same thing.
What had changed? All that had changed was what people thought was possible.
What this tells us is that it isn’t the event or the circumstances that has meaning. We can never see the event exactly as it is. Our interpretation of the event comes about because of combination of your beliefs (your feelings of certainty about what something means), your values (the emotions that you want to experience on a consistent basis) and your experiences (what you believe has happened to you).
These ‘filters’ determine how we lead. As you take control of how you interpret your world you can also take control of how you can influence (which is the essence of leadership).
The information we get comes through our senses. We are bombarded with an estimated two million bits of information every second. We could not possibly absorb
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and process all this information. Most people can only manage 132 bits of information – or around 7 chunks of information (information that is within the same category).
Our minds protect us by filtering out what it considers irrelevant.
The question is how does our mind decide what is relevant or not? What we ‘filter in’ is what we believe we need or will need for a future time. This explains why two leaders can be in the same meeting and come out with very different understandings of what was discussed and decided. They are basing it on their own filters.
The filters in our mind constantly delete, distort or generalise about what an event means.
We delete what is irrelevant, distort our experiences to fit within what we are familiar and comfortable with and generalise one thing to mean something we have experienced before.
For instance, think about someone at work who you find difficult to like or relate too. They maybe do something that annoys you or violates your rules about how people should conduct themselves at work. To not like them, what do you have to delete about them that is likeable? Maybe they are really kind to a fellow worker, maybe they are always respectful in meetings you are in, etc. Perhaps you have magnified a trait that annoys you. NOW that is all you notice about them. Perhaps they did something you didn’t like once and you have generalised to equate to their personality.
A leader has to tackle tasks that are challenging. Imagine you are faced with a challenging task. You have never been about to accomplish it successfully before. You feel intimidated by the thought of having to do it and you tell yourself you will probably get it wrong.
What are you filtering out to decide to be intimated by this challenge? What evidence of your abilities are you deleting? What past events do you need to distort to give yourself the most anxiety?
Now think of a task that you find easy to do, drive a car or tie your shoelaces. What do you need to delete to decide you can do this task? Don’t you need to delete the evidence of when you first started doing these tasks? A time when you found them intimidating and difficult?
As a leader one of our tasks is to help define ‘reality’ for the organisation. Some realities are empowering and some are disabling. This leadership mindset enables you to help those you lead to take control of how they are thinking about the challenges they face. This mindset has even greater power because it helps you to create a reality that you before thought was impossible.
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I met a leader a number of years ago who believed that people were full of weakness and faults. His experience was that were people were generally disappointing and incapable of accomplishing what he needed them too. His trust level was very low. Through self-‐reflection and the 5 principles we discussed earlier he shifted his map of the world. Since this time he tells me he is yet to find an employee who he can’t trust and is full of potential. His experience of the workplace has shifted entirely. The people are the same but his filters have changed.
You have so many choices when you start really playing around with your map and how you choose to experience it.
The questions that help you in all leadership situations to help you control your (and other’s maps of the world) are:
• “What results do I want?” • "What would I need to start noticing?” • “What would I need to start filtering in?” • “What would I need to start experiencing differently?" • "What beliefs would I need to start having to really create the change"?
For example if you believe change is hard you’re only noticing right now where change is hard. Change your belief right now -‐ change is possible right now.
If you have a belief that it takes a long time to build a relationship with someone, change your belief -‐ it’s easy to build relationships with people, all the time.
The next time somebody is snappy with you smile and wonder and be curious... "I wonder what’s going on for them to choose that emotion".
Or the next time you’re in a situation that everybody’s getting really stressed -‐ give it a different meaning -‐ choose to be relaxed and calm and efficient and be a leader. The next time there’s somebody who’s abrasive just choose to smile and support them instead of getting offended.
Change the meaning of everything and notice what turns up. I invite you to play with this amazing concept.
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Transformational Leadership Mindset 4
Embracing the Unfamiliar
One of the greatest speeches given in the last century was by John F Kennedy. In it he set the lofty goal to put a man on the moon. It was a vision that many people resonated with. It would have been only empty words unless some astronauts were prepared to go beyond what they knew, strapped themselves into a rocket and hoped that they wouldn’t bounce back into space and be lost forever.
Knowledge is only knowledge if we apply it. It takes courage to embrace the unfamiliar around us and in us. This leadership mindset serves all great leaders.
At the base of this mindset is the understanding that we do more to avoid pain than we will to feel pleasure. This means that we will avoid whatever we think will cause us discomfort, failure or distress. It means we would prefer the comfort of what we do know to the risk of what we could know.
I’ll give a really simple example. A lot of the times when somebody procrastinates around something they know what they really should do -‐ like have a difficult conversation with a colleague or make a phone call. There is a perception in that person that the pain of making the phone call, for whatever reason, is greater than the pleasure they’ll receive.
The pain of maybe failing is greater than the pleasure of possible success. Any area of your life where you’re not acting totally, congruently and just going for it, I believe the principle of pain versus pleasure could be turning up for you.
How valuable is this going to be, not just for you but how you notice other people and their choices. We’re all operating using this principle, we’ll do more to avoid pain than we will to feel pleasure and pain usually comes in the form of fear.
Most people fear three things...
• They fear not being loved
• They fear not belonging
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• They fear not being good enough
The potential pain of any of those three fears is enough often times to stop...us acting.
Most of us have a fear of going into the unknown, outside of our comfort zone.
So you’re hearing this and you’re thinking... "Well what do I do, I mean I'm not going to do anything that’s going to cause me pain so that means I'm not going to do anything, what good’s this, I might as well stop".
There is a solution. Let me explain.
You need to raise the level of pain around not acting so it’s greater than the pain of taking the risk of acting. An easy example would be public speaking. Can you believe it is the number one fear in the western world -‐ speaking in public? Apparently most people would rather be the person in the box than the person delivering the eulogy.
So the pain of delivering a public speech, what would be the pain? Well I could really make a mess of it and fail in front of everybody, I could be judged and you could boil that down to the three fears -‐ a fear of not being loved, a fear of not belonging and a fear of not being good enough.
Let’s just imagine for a moment the fear is of ‘not being enough’. So the person builds it up in their minds "I can’t do it, I can’t do it, so what if I'm not enough, what if I fail, what if I get judged" -‐ they just get themselves into a total spin. Let's use this law to turn it around. What would be the worst-‐case scenario if you didn’t do it? Well for me personally if I didn’t do the thing that I was fearful of I'd feel disappointed in myself, I'd feel that I'd let myself down. I'd feel if I decided not to do a public speech that I really wasn’t serving everybody in the room who’d come to see me.
And if I really, really thought about it, I'd be so disappointed in myself in the years ahead. I'd always be regretting the fact that I didn’t do it and if you really focus on the pain that you’ll experience through not doing a thing and really raise that level of pain, if it becomes greater than the pain of acting and the fear of failure -‐ you’ll act finally.
You’ve got to really tip the scales in your favour and conspire for your success.
One of the biggest tasks of leadership is to forge new paths. Many leaders however are forging new paths in an abstract world and not willing to explore new ideas for themselves.
Leaders like all people, like to feel safe and in control. Yet all growth happens outside of our comfort zone. All growth happens in the stretch zone. The place where you have butterflies in your stomach because you don’t know how something is going to go.
5 Mindsets of Great Leaders
To be a great leader you need to be willing to explore and embrace the unfamiliar more than anyone else. What if you decided that you would do something every day that gave you butterflies in the stomach.
Let’s briefly revisit this concept. We do more to avoid pain than we will to feel pleasure. So to create the change you’ve got to raise the level of pain around not changing so that it is so great you feel compelled to get off the couch and get moving.
Now most people will do pretty well anything to avoid fear, but isn’t it just imagined fear?
How many times have you been in a situation and you’ve said... "No, no, I can’t do it, stop asking me to do it, I can’t do it, I'm really scared" And then you finally do the thing and you ended up quite enjoying it after all. What’s that about?
Most fears, except for genuine fears of life and limb, are in our heads. Have you ever noticed this -‐ the longer you don’t do that thing the tougher it gets to do it because the fear just gets bigger and bigger and bigger and "Oh my gosh I can’t do it".
What’s the truth? Imagine for a moment you’re a kid, kids don’t think about diving into the pool, they just jump and play and splash, they don’t think about artwork needing to be perfect, they just sludge their hands all over everything and have a great time.
They’re not worried about getting their clothes dirty when they splash into a puddle -‐ parents will know this! They’re going to splash and have fun, they just do it, they just get on with it. So am I saying be like a kid – absolutely -‐ have a sense of playfulness about this. It’s not the end of the world having a go; your getting up off the couch allows so much more to turn up in your life.
If you’re considering this thinking... "But what if it doesn’t work out, are you saying that if I use this everything will be perfect?"
No, you’ll still have problems but the difference is you’ll become the person you need to be to handle them. That’s what this is all about.
What we learn through the Transformational Leadership Mindset is that your level of success is directly proportional to the level of uncertainty you can handle in your life. And some of you might be hearing this going "I don’t know if I can handle uncertainty
Some leaders think that they have to ‘feel’ courageous before they act.
Courage doesn’t get posted to you when you need it. The only way that you can experience courage is through action, and the longer you stay stationary the harder it is to take that first step, so you’ve got to get moving today.
The only thing you can learn through playing it safe is mediocrity. The only way to discover courage within you is to act, even when you feel fear.
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You must be willing to explore and embrace the unfamiliar.
Some people want to feel in control of their lives, which means they never do anything where they don’t know the outcome.
The truth is life is uncertain. The more energy we use trying to eliminate uncertainty and control it the more time we are wasting. More than that, the unhappier we will be. The reality is that we need a sense of adventure, progress and variety in order to experience joy and happiness regularly.
A lot of people will say they avoid situations that involve them going outside their comfort zone. Yet the only way to create change we want in our life is to go to what I call the stretching point. That point where it isn’t the breaking point but you are definitely uncomfortable.
What I am saying is that looking for certainty in our future as a leader is surrendering our greatest gift…the ability to enjoy the ride regardless of where it takes us.
How do we do this?
Give up the need to be right. Surrender the desire to win an argument, prove your point, and correct someone. As you give up this need you will notice the difference and celebrate them. You will realise there are often many ways to do the same thing. You will be open to learning from people who you were closed off too before.
Get used to saying,” maybe…” Instead of having to know the answer, get in the habit of being curious about what all the possibilities could be. Someone says, “This won’t work.” Suppress the need to say how it will, or why you think it won’t. Instead say, “Maybe…”
• Instead of saying, “I hope this works out…” say “I wonder how it will work out” • Instead of saying, “I hope I get the job” say “I wonder if I’ll get the job” • Instead of saying “I wish this was easier”, say “I’m curious about how to do it
Do you notice the difference in how that feels when you hear or say those sentences?
Get curious about what you don’t know. The one secret to growth and fulfilment is to be curious about what is on the other side of the comfort zone. Be prepared to commit to stepping out at least once a day.
Acknowledge yourself. Even if you take a tiny step, take the time to acknowledge yourself for doing it. Praise yourself and say, ‘well done’. You are worthy of praise when you act with courage or try something new. More importantly you are worth acknowledging simply for who you are.
5 Mindsets of Great Leaders
Transformational Leadership Mindset 5
Language Creates Our Experience
We all know the power of words. Most people can remember some words, for good or not, decades after they were spoken. The words we speak to others as leaders have real power.
The words we speak originate internally.
The final Transformational Leadership Mindset is that language creates our experience. How we communicate with others and ourselves will determine the quality of our leadership.
Your language is determining your experience. In fact the quality of your questions that you ask yourself and ask others will determine the quality of your life. If you ask a lousy question, you will get a lousy answer.
I’ll tell you a lousy question -‐ "Why me?" -‐ probably the worst question on the planet.
My answer is -‐ "Why not?" – this may sound like I’m being flippant but it’s so true.
If you ‘think’ a question all the time like "Why me", what you’re really saying is, "Why do I have problems?”
You have problems because you’re alive, problems are built into life, they're inevitable. If there weren’t challenges, complications, hurdles (read problems) then why do they need you? You are a leader because you can develop solutions and help others to get on board with them.
If as a result of a problem you choose to be a victim with your language you experience victimhood, you’ve created that for yourself. Ask a better quality question and you’ll get better quality answer.
What about if you keeping asking yourself the question... "How do I turn this around and how do I make it outstanding?
Your brain will answer that question whether you’re aware of it or not and it might answer it with something like this...
"Well the way I can turn it around is to take massive action, take responsibility, take ownership, get above the line in my thinking. And the next thing I can do is be at cause and know that I'm 100% responsible for turning this around – nobody else is -‐ it’s down to
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me. The next thing I can do is to get some support and ask some great questions of somebody else or perhaps read a book to become an expert in this area and the next thing I'm going to do is persist and persist and persist, because I know there could be a lag time in creating the results that I want."
The quality of your questions will determine the quality of your life so ask yourself some phenomenal questions...
• "How can I improve on this?” • “Who do I need to be and what do I need to do to create the results I'm looking
for?” • “What’s outstanding in this moment?” • “If this wasn’t a problem but I chose to perceive it as a gift, what would I then do
or how would I feel?” • “Who do I love right now and who loves me?"
The first step you need to do is to identify what do you keep communicating with yourself on a consistent basis. Is there a pattern of questioning going on within you constantly?
These can be positive or negative. What you want to notice, especially under pressure, what am I saying is possible? What do I believe about myself in this situation through my words?
I was coaching a leader in an emergency service a while back. Those around her saw and affirmed her talent and ability. When we talked a lot of the time she would answer my questions with, “Does that seem right?” She was communicating to herself that she really didn’t know the best path for herself.
Our language portrays to us our beliefs about the world. When you listen to what you are saying constantly to others you are also hearing your beliefs, which simply reinforce your sense of certainty about something.
Let me take a belief that I am passionate about. You hear many leaders talking about how ‘good people are hard to find’, ‘money is tight’, ‘it is hard to get enough work’. These all reveal a scarcity mindset. The more they repeat these mantra’s the more they are defining and creating their experience.
This is not to say that there are not realities to be negotiated.
However when a scarcity mindset takes over, we tend to experience a regression of imagination. It feels as though things will either remain the same as they are right now or get worse. And, that can cause us to get stuck.
5 Mindsets of Great Leaders
At its root, the scarcity mentality means that people are scared. These folks become so afraid they will lose what they have, that they start hoarding their assets. They withhold from others and by doing that they begin to withhold from themselves. As a result, they become afraid to invest in themselves and in others. Without this investment, their opportunities begin to shrink.
Replacing this scarcity mentality with an abundance mentality forces us out of the mire. The idea of plenty works because it fits with reality—the way life works.
The root of the word ABUNDANCE comes from the waves of the ocean. I love the beach and it amazes me to watch how the waves keep coming, one after another. I’m struck by the way the ocean is filled with abundant life, and the waves continue to come in perpetuity.
Developing a mindset of plenty becomes essential when you’re attempting to lead yourself and others. Leadership is “influencer-‐ship.” The abundance mentality influences followers by lifting their spirits and convincing them that their needs will be met.
There is abundance in this life. Genuine leaders tap into it. Then—instead of being a reservoir, hoarding resources—they become a river. As a river flows, they pass on what they have to others. They become like the waves of the ocean washing up on the sand and then receding, with more to follow. They receive, and then continue to give. And, they don’t have to worry, more is on the way.
This is what Stephen Covey calls “Think Win-‐Win”. It isn't about being nice, nor is it a quick-‐fix technique. It is a character-‐based code for human interaction and collaboration. Most of us learn to base our self-‐worth on comparisons and competition. We think about succeeding in terms of someone else failing-‐-‐that is, if I win, you lose; or if you win, I lose. Life becomes a zero-‐sum game. There is only so much pie to go around, and if you get a big piece, there is less for me; it's not fair, and I'm going to make sure you don't get anymore. We all play the game, but how much fun is it really? Win-‐win sees life as a cooperative arena, not a competitive one. Win-‐win is a frame of mind and heart that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all human interactions. Win-‐win means agreements or solutions are mutually beneficial and satisfying. We both get to eat the pie, and it tastes pretty darn good! A person or organization that approaches conflicts with a win-‐win attitude possesses three vital character traits: 1. Integrity: sticking with your true feelings, values, and commitments 2. Maturity: expressing your ideas and feelings with courage and consideration for the
ideas and feelings of others 3. Abundance Mentality: believing there is plenty for everyone
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Many people think in terms of either/or: either you're nice or you're tough. Win-‐win requires that you be both. It is a balancing act between courage and consideration. To go for win-‐win, you not only have to be empathic, but you also have to be confident. You not only have to be considerate and sensitive, you also have to be brave. To do that-‐-‐to achieve that balance between courage and consideration-‐-‐is the essence of real maturity and is fundamental to win-‐win.
An abundance mentality enables the leader to “step up” and rise to challenges and seek opportunities that will enable a fulfilling personal and professional life. Such an individual will seek and attract, people and experiences assisting in his/her quest to achieve greater personal and professional success.
As with many things in life, cultivating an abundance mentality takes time and is not an overnight miraculous transformation. It requires the individual to get to know him/herself at a deeper level and to be honest. It also requires the determination to make the necessary changes, which lead to personal and professional good.
• Scarcity – Not enough blessing to go around. • Abundance – More than enough blessing to go around.
• Scarcity – I have to succeed and make sure that I look good. • Abundance – If I succeed and you succeed, then we all succeed.
• Scarcity – I have all of the answers and I will determine how much you know or learn
• Abundance – I don’t have all of the answers, I will learn from you, you will learn from me, we will learn from others and we will share our learning’s with each other.
• Scarcity – Clinched fists. • Abundance – Open hands.
• Scarcity – Dictate and Micromanage. • Abundance – openness and trust
5 Mindsets of Great Leaders
If you would like to explore how to change your mindsets as a leader or within your team I would be happy to discuss this with you.
As an ICF accredited leadership coach, trainer and consultant with over 20 years experience I am confident that either through coaching or training, (or combination of both), you and your team can go to the next level of productivity and results.
Email me at [email protected] to start a conversation to see what might be right for you.
SUMMARY: TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP MINDSETS
#1 – Think above the Line.
Take responsibility for the results you are getting right now.
#2 – Take Control of what you focus on.
Focus on the possibilities and potential.
#3 – Take control of how you interpret your world.
Your filters determine what you see.
#4 – Learn to embrace the unfamiliar.
The more you can move out of your comfort zone the more effective you will be as a leader.
#5 – Language creates reality.
Listen to your language and adapt it to reach your results.